Using the whole chicken
We understand that our pasture raised chicken costs significantly more than chicken from the grocery store.
There are several reasons that our chicken costs more:
- small farmers pay more for feed as we can't purchase in the massive quantities that allow for huge discounts.
- our chickens are supplemented only with nonGMO feeds which are significantly more costly than GMO feeds
- construction of small portable shelters to support chickens on pasture is more costly per bird than construction of a building that houses 10's of thousands of birds.
- Processing costs are higher for us than for huge processing plants.
- Transportation to get birds and meat to and from the processor in small batches is higher.
In summary - chicken raised on pasture by small farms just costs more.
We believe that the extra expense is worth it, because:
- The flavor is superior!
- The texture is superior!
- Our birds are raised humanely and they get to eat foods that chickens were meant to eat such as insects, grubs, seeds, grass, clover and greens.
- Chickens raised on pasture receive natural sunlight - I don't know about you, but there are days when I crave more sunlight! It just feels good - it improves mood, and it provides us with much needed vitamin D. Why shouldn't chickens and other animals enjoy, and need, the sun just as much as we do?
- Raising chickens on pasture improves the soil. The chickens leave behind a layer of the most natural fertilizer. They trample some of the grass that isn't eaten and this along with their manure feeds the soil microbes. The end result is increased topsoil, increased fertility, and improved pasture for the next animals to graze the area.
The most economical way to purchase Pasture Raised Chicken is as a whole bird.
Here are some pointers for getting the most out of a whole roasting chicken and, well utilizing the entire bird, bones and all:
Day 1, Roast your chicken in the oven. Enjoy the first meal you make from your chicken making sure to save all the bones. Yes, that's right - even if you or your kids have chewed the meat off the bone. Save any drippings too - they are great to make gravy, and if gravy isn't your thing, save the drippings anyhow, I'll tell you why in a moment.
Day 2, Pick any remaining meat off of your bird (save those bones!!).
- Use the picked meat the make chicken salad, sandwiches, pot pie, creamed chicken, the possibilities are endless. If nothing else, save the picked meat to add to the soup that you will make using the drippings and bones that you saved from the chicken carcass.
Day 3, Actually, you need not wait for Day 3 to start soup. You could toss all the bones and drippings straight into your slow cooker or Instant Pot and start some home made bone broth right away.
If using a slow cooker, place all the bones, yes, even the ones that were chewed on into the slow cooker, cover with water, add 1 TBSP of vinegarand set to simmer at the lowest temp for 24 hours. Keep an eye on it and make sure the water level does not get low. You could do this on the stove-top as well - you just need to watch the water level even more carefully on the stove.
If using an Instant Pot, place all the bones and drippings into the pot and fill with water to the full mark, add 1 TBSP of vinegar. Cook at high pressure for 3 hours and let it naturally release pressure.
Whichever method you use, the next step is to pour your broth through a sieve to filter out scum, small bones and other undesirable chunks. Let the bones cool.
After the bones cool, I go over them one more time and pick any remaining meat to return to the bone broth after I've seasoned it for soup.
Enjoy your home made bone broth as is, or turn it into a hearty soup for yet another meal made from this one chicken!
How to make a quick and easy soup:
Place your bone broth in a stock pot and add 1 tsp of thyme, 1 tsp of rosemary and 2 bay leaves. (feel free to use your favorite herbs or spices) Heat to a boil and let it simmer while you prep some vegetables.
Dice 2-3 carrots, 2-4 stalks of celery, and 3 medium potatoes. Add them to the soup. Let it simmer about 10-12 minutes or until the veggies are tender.
If you like, add 2 cups of pasta (egg noodles are fantastic), or 1/4 cup of rice. Simmer until the pasta is not quite done and turn the heat off. The pasta or rice will continue to cook in the hot soup. I use Tinkyada brand gluten free noodles or Lotus Foods gluten free ramen noodles.
Add any saved or picked chicken to the soup now.
Season to taste with salt and pepper.
We like a twist of lemon or lime juice in our chicken soup and I especially love mine served with some crumbled aged cheddar cheese melting in yummy blobs along with the veggies....
And that's it - depending on how many people you are feeding, one whole chicken can serve as the protein for at least 2 -3 meals. For our family of four we get two full meals out of one bird with enough leftover soup to either put some away in the freezer for quick meals on a rushed night or to eat for lunch or even breakfast the next day.